I wanted to write days ago, but well…time got away from me. It actually ran away from me, strapped to the back of my baby daughter. My little Christmas present made her grand entrance into my world on Christmas Eve.
I can’t explain how it felt to see her and know that this was my child, the one piece of me and my husband that truly mattered. Nothing matters now, not the way she does. Yes, my writing is important to me…often vital to my mental well-being. Yet if I never write another word, I know that my life is complete because of her (and her daddy).
She truly is my miracle baby, in more ways than one…
Christmas 2009 I went home angry at the world, my family, at myself and my husband, and even at God…though I wasn’t sure I still believed. I am not a militant or hardcore Christian. I don’t go to church every Sunday (somewhat due to my working every weekend…but that’s another story), but I know what the Bible says and I know what I sort of believed to be true.
But Christmas 2009…that was the breaking point for me. My husband and I had been married for six months, but together for five years. We’d been half trying for a child since about 3 months before we were married, and once we were married we began trying in earnest.
It wasn’t happening, and it was mostly because of my body and the fact that we were on wildly conflicting work schedules where our time together was limited to only weekends and early mornings during the week.
The year 2009 welcomed 6? 7? new babies into my family, via my siblings and my cousins and seeing these babies was highly upsetting for me. It felt like I had failed and that it wasn’t fair. My husband and I were older, more responsible, stable and educated people. We had our own home to offer a child and we could easily support one. Yet we could not make one.
I went home that night and straight to bed, upset and hurting. I remember praying that God give us a child before the next Christmas. Praying harder for that than anything I’d ever prayed for before…and not truly believing it would happen.
And then my confused body just simply stopped working in that way. I now had no hope for children anytime soon. Yet there was no clear medical reason for what was going on. We discussed it and decided maybe it was time to take a break, to give me a chance to alleviate some of the stress that trying had placed on me and to give us a chance to pay off some bills and get some breathing room.
By this time I was working part time and focusing on my writing career and had no health insurance. It kind of made sense to wait until I could get on my husband’s policy during the open enrollment period–8 months away.
Fast forward to April 2010…my body still wasn’t working–at least not obviously. I was still stressed but not as much, I was just tired. Extremely tired. I just shrugged it off and started taking vitamins again. I’d struggled with anemia in the past–many times–and that had always made me tired, too. Usually after about a week of the iron-fortified vitamins I started feeling better. Not this time. I was still tired, so I started taking afternoon naps instead of working on my novel. I thought nothing else of it.
May rolled around and I was still tired, so I started going to bed a bit earlier. No problem, I love sleeping and love long naps–so I did what I wanted and slept. And slept. And slept some more.
On May 11th my husband was sleeping and I got hit by a surge of energy and ended up cleaning out the bathroom shelves. I found the last of the pregnancy tests I’d purchased when we were trying to conceive. I’d hidden it in the corner of the shelf, but I’d always known it was there. Taunting me. Teasing me. Reminding me every time I stepped into the bathroom that I couldn’t do it.
I decided to get rid of the test, yet the frugal, practical side of me couldn’t see throwing away a test that had been unused. So I decided to use it, just to reiterate my own failure and as a joke since my husband and I had started taking precautions (though I secretly thought they were unnecessary) and to just get the damned test out of my sight and out of my house.
So I took the test. And I watched it like I had so many others. It took less than 10 seconds of the required three minutes for a positive result to appear.
I had never been so terrified in my life. I was terrified that I’d imagined it, terrified that it was a test malfunction, terrified that it was true. So I stared at the test and stared at it in a state of shock I cannot with any words describe.
So I went into the bedroom and woke my husband. My simple “I need you in here for a moment…” is a conversation starter I will never forget. He stumbled into the kitchen (he does not wake easy) and I pushed the test across the island to him…he stared at it. Then he asked what it was…then he focused on the simple white stick.
“You’re f*****’ sh*****’ me?” Then he stumbled back to bed.
Not the response I expected. A few minutes later he popped his head back outside the bedroom door…”Did you just…”
“Yeah…” Not the greatest response, but I still hadn’t put it into words just what the test signified.
“We’ll talk when I wake up.” It was one p.m., he’d get up at five, since he worked night shift and had to work that night.
Sounded good to me–I needed time to process and I always had trouble processing when other people–including my husband–were around.
Well, I processed by going to the store (I don’t remember the drive) and buying seven more tests. By five o’clock our kitchen counter was littered with positive tests, pink, blue, digital, plus–they were all there for my husband to see when he woke up.
Fast forward a few weeks and I am extremely sick and had been diagnosed with hyperemesis–or extreme morning sickness. I was definitely pregnant, we’d had an ultrasound and been given a due date of Dec. 27, 2010. I’m sick, tired, and terrified but we are also extremely excited.
Around fifteen weeks I get violently ill (more so than with the hyperemesis), vomiting every fifteen minutes from about 6p.m. on a Sunday night until 6 a.m. on a Monday morning. By 7 a.m. I’m at the emergency room, released a few hours later. Diagnosis–hyperemesis and dehydration. By 3 p.m. my husband takes me back to the hospital. This time my doctor is called and I am admitted. They don’t know why and the anti-nausea medications are not working. But I am being hydrated through IVs and being monitored.
By 10 p.m. I’ve spiked a 102+ fever and my doctor diagnosis a hidden kidney infection that hadn’t shown up on any of the previous tests. I spend two nights and three days in the hospital but am finally released with a low dose antibiotic that I will be taking throughout the rest of my pregnancy to ensure the infection does not return.
At 20 weeks we are scheduled for the big gender ultrasound. All of the grandparents and my sister are waiting to find out the results. Our results via ultrasound–it was definitely a baby. A mischievous baby who’d refused to hold still long enough to show us whether our nursery would be pink or blue.
Disappointed…but my biggest concern before the ultrasound was that there would be something wrong with my baby. After the ultrasound I didn’t care that we hadn’t found out the gender, I was just thrilled to see little arms and legs waving around wildly.
On my 30th birthday, we went in for another ultrasound…mainly to ensure that our baby didn’t have an overly large head (my husband had had a larger head at birth) and was in a good birth position.
But it was very clear from the screen that our baby would be wearing a lot of pink clothing. I’d never imagined I’d have a little girl–I’d always thought I’d have boys. Boys were a lot less frightening to me. I had experience with little boys through my nephews. But a girl…
I’d always hated the color pink, hated the stereotyping and gender roles that delineated our culture. My little girl would not be one of those little princesses. She would not watch the Disney princesses, as far as I was concerned.
But then I saw the little girl on the screen…and later that day I bought pink. A pink sleeper, a onesie that said “My ❤ Belongs to Daddy” and a little pink blanket. My first gender specific purchase. They were hers…
The next few weeks rushed by quickly as we bought the crib and had the baby showers. I was still sick, though not quite as badly; I was still tired, but it was manageable. I was still working…
On December 14th I went on maternity leave because although my job was easy, I was getting too tired by the end of my shift. At this point I was 37 weeks and a few days pregnant.
The next ten days were filled with naps and doctor’s appointments.
My body once again refused to work. I wasn’t dilating at all. So it looked like I would be spending Christmas the size of a whale. No big deal, I was just excited to have a baby coming and though I was tired and hurting and ready for it to be over with, I was also glad to not have to go through labor yet. I’d spent most of this pregnancy terrified, so why wouldn’t I be terrified of delivery?
On Dec. 23rd I go in again to get checked, only to be told there was no change. No dilation and I would not be getting my baby before Christmas…so we made plans to induce labor on my due date of Dec. 27th.
I was looking forward to Christmas because–dammit–I was hungry and I wanted persimmon pudding!
Christmas Eve, I sleep in. By this point my husband was sleeping in the nursery on a rollaway mattress because I was horrible to sleep with (I lost count of the number of times I’d kicked him or hit him in my sleep, poor man!).
Enter one determined Border collie…
It was close to ten a.m. and Liberty the dog had to go potty…or so I assumed. She kept licking my hand (something she often did when she wanted to wake me up) and then my face, whimpering and jumping around on the bed. I just assumed my husband had overslept and Liberty–and the other two dogs–just couldn’t hold it anymore.
Still, I rolled over to escape the relentless Border collie…I just wanted to sleep. A 39 week 5 day pregnant woman just wants as much sleep as she can get.
As I rolled over, I felt a trickle. Something wasn’t right, but I just thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stood up and walked into the living room…by the time I got there I realized something truly wasn’t right. I was bleeding, and it wasn’t minor.
I went to the restroom just as my water broke. But it wasn’t just amniotic fluid. I was passing blood clots. I pushed Liberty out of the way–she was standing outside the nursery whimpering–and opened the door to the nursery and told my husband I was bleeding and I needed him up immediately. I don’t think his knees even bent, he just sort of floated up. While he put on his shoes and used the restroom I had time to grab the hospital bag and my coat. To call my mom to come clean up the blood and to take care of the dogs. Five minutes later we were on our way to the hospital. I was calm. I wasn’t in any pain, and more importantly, the baby was moving around like crazy. She was ok and that meant everything.
By 10:30 we were there, and they rushed me past the admitting desk and straight up to the labor and delivery floor.
And then the bleeding stopped. I was not dilated any more than I had been the day before.
In fact, I felt pretty good. I was still calm. I knew I’d be having a baby that day.
They hooked me up to IVs of fluids and pitocin to increase the contractions and their strength. Ok, it worked some. I could feel some contractions, very minor ones. But still no dilation.
At about 2 p.m. the nurse came in to check on me…I was having an incredibly strong contraction and they wanted to see how I was handling it.
Pretty good–I hadn’t even felt it.
An hour later my doctor arrives to tell me the baby’s heart rate was dropping slightly after every contraction. And I still hadn’t dilated. Once again, my body was not working. Big surprise, right?
We discussed options and potential outcomes before arriving at the decision to do a cesarean. At 4p.m. the surgical team had arrived and I was prepped and on my way back for the surgery. The anesthesiologist did the epidural and I was numb. My husband was led in. He and the anesthesiologist stayed by my head, talking to me while they did the surgery. I asked the anesthesiologist how long on average a c-section would take.
“Let’s see…” Was his reply.
A few minutes later he returned…”Three minutes…”
I heard my baby crying as they cleaned her up.
They handed her to her daddy and he held her next to my face. That first upside down view of her little face is one I will never forget.
It was 4:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. We named her Evalyn Claire, a name we had picked out a few years before we’d started trying. We hadn’t known our Evie would arrive on Christmas Eve.
The little baby I had prayed so hard for on Christmas day 2009 had made it for Christmas 2010–with less than eight hours to spare.
Christmas Evie was here…an answer to her mother’s prayers.